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 Post subject: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:14 pm 
Star B
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From the Annals of the Turley J. Hinton Institute....


Hills Like White Lamanites

By Robert B. Oberson


PART I: Krista Severson

"Boy, that sure is good." Merlyn Young set his knife and fork down and looked around for the waitress. "'Scuse me," he said to a busboy. "We're still waiting on our drinks."

"Oh. Okay. Um, what did you order?"

"We each had a root beer."

"Okay, sure: no problem. I'll go check on it."

"Thank you."

Merlin and Howell were seated at the edge of the dining room at Spencer's in downtown Salt Lake, where, just a few hours earlier, they'd met with Elder Pitt to discuss Hinton Institute business. Howell cut into his steak, which was so rare that it was almost bloody. He forked up a piece of it and held it up in front of his face.

"Look at that. Just magnificent, I tell you." He put it into his mouth and chewed. "Just delicious. These morons: these enviro-whatevers? Who think that we have to cut back on meat to save the carbon footprint or whatever? Idiots. All of them."

"It's all about control for them," said Merlyn. He looked carefully across the table at his friend, who had seemed more tired and older late. He didn't want to pry, but he knew that things were going sour in Howell's personal life, to say nothing of the other issues facing the Institute. But now wasn't the time to dwell on such things.

Merlyn and Howell had ordered a full spread: 20 oz. bone-in ribeye steaks (rare for Howell; medium-well for Merlyn), hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, mac & cheese, creamed spinach, and prawn cocktail. They felt that they'd earned it, and that they needed it. At the meeting with President Pitt, they'd been complimented for their work responding to Dylan Cross, who, it was being said in certain quarters of the Church, had been very badly discredited. Now, it seemed, poor young Cross was having difficulty securing an academic job. "A pity it had to be this way," Elder Pitt had said.

And a lot had happened at the Hinton Institute in the past year: Franklynn Carmichael had disappeared, only to be found months later; or, rather, his remains were found, clear out in the desert. He had been missing for months when some people running land-speed tests out on the salt flats had discovered a skeleton. It was a horrible revelation, and everyone at the Institute had been shaken by the discovery, though they all knew that he had been on a slow slide for some time. Many had been concerned about his spiritual health, and towards the end, he had been reluctant to do any of the heavy lifting that his post at the Institute required. Merlyn had heard strange rumors, on the message boards and elsewhere, that some phantom "Danites" had killed Franklynn: rumors which he partly helped to inflame. It never hurt, he thought, to keep the anti-Mormons guessing, and to perhaps instill a bit of fear in them. Whatever people thought of Franklynn personally, his death meant that the Institute was without its principal Book of Abraham apologist, and criticism on the boards had been ratcheting up lately. Both Nephi and Howell had taken heavy hits lately on matters pertaining to women in the Church, and race issues. Howell had been called a "misogynist" after he made an off-hand remark about Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Nephi was in hot water over comments about "lazy Blacks" and "welfare queens." One of the nastier of the anti-Mormon critics had suggested that they read John Lund's classic, The Church and the Negro in order to get up to speed on the latest Mopologetic racial theory. Offline, it was agreed that Nephi should lay low for a while until the criticism died down.

As for Howell, he had a plan, which had, in actuality, been in motion for some time. Three years ago, as part of a short-lived initiative coming down from some uppity administrator, the Hinton Institute had been obliged to make a "diversity hire." At first they had protested, but after several meetings, they ultimately decided that it could work to their advantage, and so they ran a job posting, conducted interviews, and eventually settled on a newly minted Ph.D. in literary studies from Duke: Krista Severson. She was in her mid-thirties, and was married to Todd Severson, who was the grandson of a mission president stationed in England. Some of her publications from her graduate school days caused concern: particularly one titled, "Feminist Voices and Homosociality in Djuna Barnes's Nightwood." It was her very earliest journal publication, though, and since then she'd been completely spotless. Further, he credentials were spotless, and they could be able to refer to her as "Dr. Severson." So they'd hired her and put her to work doing editing work, and occasionally writing the odd review for the Journal of HIDM.

Now, though, Howell had a plan to promote her to Associate Editor: to give her a higher profile so as to defuse accusations of sexism.

"It's really a win-win for everyone," he said.

Merlyn nodded. "She's been with us a long time. She's reliable. It may be that it's time to give her more responsibility."

Just then the waitress came over with their two large root beers. "So sorry about that! Things got a little backlogged over at the bar."

"Oh, don't worry about it, sweetheart," said Howell, winking at her.

When she left, the two men hoisted their glasses and clinked them together.

"'Once you make a decision, the world conspires to make it happen'," said Merlyn, clearly quoting something.

Howell squinted: "Emerson?"

"You never fail to catch them, Howell," he said.

They both laughed and tucked back into their steaks, eating and talking and quietly burping into their napkins. When they finished, they were full and satiated, and they paid the bill and charged it to the Hinton Institute, and made their way outside, where the late September air was dry and warm, and they got into the car and went home.



Later that evening, Merlyn sat in his study, listening to Gustav Holtz's The Planets and chuckling contentedly to himself as he thumbed through a copy of The Five Thousand Year Leap. How he savored quiet moments like this! He realized that the only way to improve upon the situation would be to get up and get some dessert: he thought there was likely a pint of Cherry Garcia (which he ate because he loved it, in spite of the name, which he hated so much that it was almost enough to prevent him from eating it) in the freezer. But just then, his phone buzzed and he saw that he had a text message. It was from Herb McConkie:

check the boards. now.

Merlyn held his breath for a moment and then he hauled out his laptop and opened it and navigated over to MormonDiscourse.com. There, at the top of the forum, was a relatively new thread that already had over 1,700 views:

EXTRA EXTRA!! Administrative changes coming to the Hinton Institute?

Do they just make this stuff up? Merlyn said to himself. He clicked on the thread and read on. Mostly it was pure speculation, though some of it seemed eerily accurate: particularly an assertion that the Institute had been "ordered by the Brethren" to adopt a more "liberal" stance, such as being friendlier to women. Was it possible that someone had told this anti-Mormon, whose screen name was "Zelph Junior," about their plans to promote Krista Severson? It couldn't be: the circle who knew about such things was limited to himself, Howell, and three or four others. Severson herself likely didn't even know yet, though there were plenty who could perhaps have guessed about or anticipated such a move. But this complicated matters significantly. A meeting would have to be convened.

Merlyn logged in and typed out a laconic post:

It's amusing to me that 'Zelph Junior,' who seems to have no relationship to the Hinton Institute whatsoever, is insinuating that he knows anything about its inner workings. As someone who happens to actually and truly work there, I can say with a good degree of confidence that these rumors have little to no basis in fact.

He submitted it and watched the replies for another hour or so: a long-time poster called "Skeletor," (whom he'd told, on multiple occasions, "I don't like you very much") was particularly strident tonight.

Skeletor: Look, I'm sorry Dr. Young, but your blithe dismissal of this doesn't mean a whole lot. We've seen you stretching the truth on this board way too many times for us to just take what you say at face value. You remember the Hiram Sanderson letter, don't you? Or the Vogel Picks His Nose fold-in?

Merlyn Young: Sigh. Why do I bother at all? I clarify matters, but them I'm called a liar. I might as well not say anything at all. You're demonstrating quite an overactive and paranoid imagination this evening. I probably shouldn't interfere any further."

He checked his watch: it was 12:05, and he had to get up in order to teach a 9:00 AM class, and yet he was fuming. A "liar"? He'd been participating on the boards for decades, and had, he thought, developed quite a thick skin, but every so often, the criticisms: the same tired, unoriginal, repetitive criticism, got tiresome. And Skeletor had been at it for years. As he logged out and closed his laptop, Merlyn made a promise to himself that he would pursue the matter of Skeletor, and of Zelph Junior, for that matter, more aggressively in the coming weeks.


To be continued in Part II: In Sickness and in Health

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:53 am 
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Yet again, Bobberson delivers!!

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:55 am 
Star B

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I've been lurking here for years and years. I hardly ever comment, but I had to say how much I enjoyed this. The steaks (and the hash browns, sautéed mushrooms, mac & cheese, creamed spinach, and prawn cocktail) the quiet burping into napkins, Dr. Severson's graduate publication "Feminist Voices and Homosociality in Djuna Barnes's Nightwood", Merlyn's righteous indignation - it's all so deliciously funny. Well done Bobberson.


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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:40 am 
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Commenting only to help push this up to the top where it justly belongs.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 7:12 pm 
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Part II: In Sickness and in Health

"It's set for December, once the semester lets out for Howell, but I don't know if I can even wait that long."

"You're having second thoughts about giving it another chance?"

In the three years since she had joined the Hinton Institute, Krista Severson had become a close friend and confidant to Lilith Lambeth. Lilith had told her everything: about Howell's issues, about her affair with Steve Corkman, about her sense that the younger of her twin sons might be gay. And when Lilith had finally decided to tell Howell about the affair, Krista stood waiting in the wings to support her.

"He didn't yell or scream or throw anything, believe it or not," Lilith had said. "At first he seemed to think I was lying, but once the truth of it settled over him, he curled up in the fetal position and sobbed and sobbed like a little baby."

Krista just nodded when Lilith told her this: support was what she needed, but Krista had to hold her tongue as well. A crying, blubbering Howell was the exact opposite of the man she had to deal with routinely at the Hinton Institute.

That had been a few months ago, though, and in the meantime Lilith and Howell had been contemplating what to do next. Lilith wanted to file for divorce and to leave with Steve Corkman. "Over my dead body," had been Howell's reply, and he had threatened to rat them out to the Stake President: "You're inviting your own spiritual death," he'd said. So, Lilith stalled, and they eventually arrived at the idea of taking a trip to Europe around the Christmas holiday. Maybe a trip was just what they needed to rekindle their relationship, but Lilith thought it was a dead-end.

"At least it's a trip," said Krista. "Have you been to Denmark before?"

"No. I've been to Paris, and to the south of France and to Italy, but not Denmark."

"Well, there's that. Go for you. Do some shopping. Pamper yourself. And who knows what'll happen?"

Lilith sighed. "I just don't know why Heavenly Father has burdened me with these challenges."

"It's the burden of having the priesthood!" said Krista, and they both laughed and laughed and laughed.



At the Hinton Institute, a meeting had been convened. Two days after 'Zelph Junior's first post, a new thread had been started in which Zelph Junior claimed to have inside knowledge that Merlyn and Howell had met with the Brethren. "They were told that their behavior has been un-Christlike, and that they would face Church discipline if things didn't changed." Howell had shaken his head at this: he was looking more and more ashen as of late, but Merlyn was incensed, and matters were made worse by 'Skeletor's taunts. This is a fantastic development, he had written. It's been a long time coming, but it seems that the Brethren have finally wised up and decided to put the Mopologists in their place. Merlyn Young is a toad and a scum bag and I'm glad that he's been called on the carpet.

"I've had more than enough of this," Merlyn had thought to himself, but he didn't reply to Skeletor's taunts. This time, matters were more complicated: the anti-Mormon critics made wild speculations all this time, but this new thread, as hyperbolic as it was, was still too specific to be pure invention. Someone, both he and Howell agreed, had to be leaking information out to the critics. Still, it was too early to start making accusations at the Hinton Institute, and so Merlyn had proposed a different tactic. Thus, they all sat in the Hinton Institute's conference room, where the air felt stale and close, smelling faintly of mothballs and Old Spice and disinfectant. Howell, at the head of the table, looked tired and disheveled, but he nonetheless led the meeting in the usual manner, calling on Herb to give the opening prayer.

"Thank you for that, Herb." Howell folded his arms and leaned forward so that he was resting on the table. "So, first of all, I have a few announcements to make. After prayerful consideration, I've decided that a change is in order, and I am going to be stepping down as Editor in Chief of the Journal of HIDM, and Merlyn is going to take my place."

Herb, Nephi, Jon Trout, Krista, and the others applauded.

"Hey, now," said Howell. "I'm sitting right here. Don't be so anxious to get rid of me just yet." He smiled and everyone laughed. "But this is a good move for the Journal. Merlyn's intelligence and wit and scholarly acumen are unmatched. This move will almost certainly anger a number of our critics."

More laughter, and Merlyn blushed.

"Will you still stay on as Director?" asked Jon Trout.

"Yes. I'll stay on in that capacity," said Howell, "but it's time for me to pass the torch for the Journal. Let's inject some fresh blood into the editorial process."

More applause.

"Merlyn! what do you have to say for yourself, Dr. Young? Speech! Speech!"

"Oh, now, now. I'm completely flattered, of course. But these are big shoes I'm being asked to fill. I doubt that I'll ever live up to the edifice you've built for all of us here, Howell. I can only hope to do my best."

"We wouldn't ask anything more of you than that, Merlyn."

Several of the people at the table seemed to be tearing up.

Merlyn shifted in his chair and clenched one of his fists and set it on the table. "We have to take the defense of the Church very seriously. Critics are on the rise, and as we all know, the Internet has been a game-changer. So, we need to make a move immediately." He turned to Krista Severson: "Dr. Severson, you've been an absolute asset to us during your time here, and we'd like to ask you to serve the Journal at the rank of Associate Editor."

Her eyes widened and she brought her hand up to her mouth: "Oh! Oh my goodness! What a huge honor! Of course I accept. Thank you, Drs. Lambeth and Young!"

"It's the right decision," said Howell, nodding.

Nephi, Herb, and some of the other, more senior members looked somewhat disgruntled at this development, but they didn't say anything.

"We need to get to work immediately," Merlyn went on. "As my first act as Editor, I am hereby announcing a Special Issue of the Journal of HIDM devoted exclusively to online anti-Mormonism. It's time to lift up the rock and expose the dank creatures dwelling underneath."

Everyone nodded soberly.

"So, after this meeting lets out, I ask that each of you spend time brainstorming ways we can tackle this challenge. It's time that the anonymous cowards online were answered properly."

There was a moment of quiet, and it was clear that everyone was thinking, planning out the ways they would go about their assigned tasks.

"Well, then," said Howell. "I guess that'll do it. Sister Severson? Or, should I say, Associate Editor Severson, would you offer us a closing prayer?"

She did, and everyone said, "Amen!"

They were standing up to leave, and Jon Trout said, "You know, I guess that thread on the boards was right after all: there wasa change. Every once in a while the antis get one right, huh?"

A few of them laughed uncomfortably, trying to make light of it, but Trout could sense immediately that he'd said something that he shouldn't have said, and as he walked away, he could feel Merlyn's and Howell's eyes boring into him.


To be continued in Part III: "By the Power of Greyskull!"

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:01 pm 
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Please, sir . . .
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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 1:26 pm 
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I'm hoping that Howell and Lilith take that trip to Europe. And, while there Howell receives an email from Merlyn telling Howell his services are no longer needed.

One can always hope.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:29 pm 
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I would be interested to find out whether or not Merlyn Young ever performs the song and dance number "I love to Dance a Little Sidestep" in one of the chapters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRdr_jp-d9c

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:42 am 
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*cough*


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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:52 pm 
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Fantastic stuff. Capturing the whiff of Mopologetics isn't an easy task, BUT Mr. B. Oberson does it every time perfectly. Bully for him...

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:55 pm 
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I have been haunted by the Hemingway original. I have also wondered why. It is so slight. I do like brevity, it charms. I think it is the promise of a train coming to escape the scene which gives Hemingways tale substance.

The above story lacks a train and might run on pointlessly forever. That of course might be the point of story in the above version.

Or is it just Utah land which reminded somebody of Hills like White Elephants.


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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:14 pm 
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Part III: "By the Power of Greyskull!"

A week after the meeting, Krista Severson sat at home at the kitchen table with her laptop open. Her husband, Kyle, was off at a scouting meeting at the local ward's cultural hall, and so she had a bit of alone time. She navigated over to MormonDiscourse.com and logged in and went into the Private Message system, and she began typing a message that would go to both Zelph Junior and Skeletor.

Greetings, old friends. I bring news from the Hinton Institute. As I told you last time, there are administrative changes afoot. Howell Lambeth is out as Editor in Chief, and he's being replaced by Merlyn Young. Someone is being promoted to Associate Editor, but I don't know who. It could be Jon Trout, or maybe Krista Severson, since they were ordered by Salt Lake City to make a show of being "diverse." We'll see how it plays out.

One other thing. I've been able to learn that Merlyn Young's agenda for the upcoming issue of
The Journal of HIDM is going to be on online anti-Mormonism. Don't be surprised if you find quotes from this board in the pages of the next journal!

That's all for now.

Take care,

Grendel's Mother


She hit "SEND," and then logged off. It wouldn't be long until either Skeletor or Zelph Junior posted a new thread, and she smiled to herself, knowing how angry Merlyn, Howell, and the others would be.



Down in Utah County, Howell sat on the sofa, with his fingers interlaced and resting on his distended belly. He was watching a program on World War II on the History Channel: it was a show that gave play-by-play accounts of the different battles in the Pacific Theater. At the other end of the sofa, Lilith was reading a novel, some thing by some woman that Howell had never heard of: Alice Munro or something along those lines. He had assumed that it was some whiny, "relationshippy," maudlin story about a bunch of lovelorn, sad-sack women, and therefore that it wasn't worth an iota of his time. On the other hand, he partly suspected that the characters in the book were having affairs, or were engaged in various kinds of inappropriate sexual behavior, and for that reason, there was a part of him that wanted to yank the book out of Lilith's hands and tear it into pieces. Ever since her confession to him, things had been tense. After the drag-out fights, and the crying and the screaming, they had settled into something resembling a detente, though they hadn't touched one another in months.

"You know," Howell said during a commercial break. "I wonder if I should just go on this trip by myself after all. Maybe we just need time apart from each other."

Lilith didn't look up from her book. "Nope," she said.

"Huh? What's that?"

"Nope, I said."

"So you still want to go. What for? Why would you want to spend the time in my company? Obviously you think I'm disgusting. Unworthy of your love." He waved his hand whimsically in the air as he said this.

"Not everything has to do with you, Howell. The tickets and reservations have been booked and paid for. We'll make this work," she said.

"Make what 'work'? This marriage? So you're ready to stop with all the resentment?"

She pursed her lips and turned the page in her book.

"Would you just talk to me?" he said.

At last she looked up and met his gaze. She snapped the book shut and set it in her lap. "Okay, sure," she said brightly. "Let's talk, Howell."

He blinked. "Tell me why you want to go on the trip."

"Why not?" she said. "I like trips. I like going places."

"But you'll have to go with me."

"There's all kinds of things I've had to do with you. What's one more?"

"This is because I won't give you the divorce, isn't it?"

"I don't need your permission for that, Howell."

"You know what I mean," he said. "Pppttthhbbbt. Ah, to hell with it. I give up."

"Meaning what?" she went on. "That you're going to let me go?"

He had turned back to watching his show. "I already told you my feelings on that," he said. "Covenants actually mean something to me. 'For time and eternity' is a phrase that I actually took to heart."

Lilith smiled softly and returned to her book.





It was 11:59 PM, and Merlyn Young had retired to his study. He was snacking on a king-size box of Goobers and reading over an old, tattered copy of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The 2nd movement of Dvorak's 9th Symphony wafted softly from the stereo speakers. I really ought to be reading something American, Merlyn noted to himself. He began to put away his copy of Coleridge and to look for something else, but he soon found himself distracted by his open laptop, and before he knew it, he found himself logged in at MormonDiscourse.com, and looking over the new threads. He had been dreading a new installment from the Zelph Junior/Skeletor tag-team, and sure enough, something new was up:

LAMBETH GETS BOOTED; MERLYN YOUNG IS THE NEW HATCHET MAN

He popped a few more Goobers into his mouth and clicked on the link. Once again, "Skeletor" was reporting on things that were way to accurate to ignore. Someone was leaking information to the apostates. But who could it be? Merlyn grit his teeth as he read through the the posts, replete with Skeletor's cynical, unfailingly negative speculations ("I'm sure the Brethren ordered Howell Lambeth's firing"), and plenty of back-slapping from the mostly atheist, apostate critics. His mind swam as he read: who could possibly be feeding these things to the apostates? Who would do this to us? He ate another Goober, but it went down the wrong pipe, and he leaned forward, gasping and choking and coughing, slapping at his knee and growing red in the face until it came up.

He closed his eyes and spent a few moments re-composing himself: drawing in some deep breaths, and then he began to type out a reply, and he noticed that, in his anger, he'd missed the fact that he had 5 new Private Messages: two from Nephi, two from Herb, and one from Howell.

FROM: Nephi Clark
TO: Merlyn Young, Howell Lambeth, Herb McConkie

Are you seeing this? Who is Skeletor? You don't think it's Jon Trout, do you?


FROM: Herb McConkie
TO: Merlyn Young, Howell Lambeth, Nephi Clark

I wouldn't peg Jon as doing this. Frederickson is a better candidate, if you ask me."


FROM: Nephi Clark
TO: Merlyn Young, Howell Lambeth, Herb McConkie

Whatever the case, we need to start keeping better tabs on what's going on, and on what people are doing and saying. I only suggested Jon Trout because I've seen some suspect things on his Facebook feed from time to time


FROM: Herb McConkie
TO: Merlyn Young, Howell Lambeth, Nephi Clark

Well, if we're going to follow through on Merlyn's editorial vision, we should probably be keeping an eye on Facebook and other venues anyways. The blogs, the message boards: these places are where the war's being fought.


FROM: Howell Lambeth
TO: Merlyn Young, Herb McConkie, Nephi Clark

This is going to be a big task. We'll want to recruit more people to help us out. And not just STAAM people, either. We know all too well what can happen when we rely on people who aren't fully equipped for what we have in mind. I'm thinking instead that now is the time to give an opportunity to our friend up in Winnipeg. He's been a long-time donor to the Hinton Institute, and I know he's been hankering to get more deeply involved in the apologetic aspects of what we do.


Merlyn immediately saw the potential in what Howell was suggesting. The "friend up in Winnipeg" was a psychiatrist and bishop named Beau Taylor, and he had deep roots in the Church: one of his in-laws was in the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy. And Beau had asked, on several occasions, if there were any ways that he might get further involved beyond financial donations. He was bright, well-read in Hinton Institute publications, and Merlyn knew, from having had a number of private conversations with him, that his exasperation with Church critics ran marrow-deep. As Dvorak's 9th shifted into the final movement, Merlyn began to type a reply to the others:


FROM: Merlyn Young
TO: Howell Lambeth, Herb McConkie, Nephi Clark

I really can't think of a more ideal person to lead up our new efforts. Brother Taylor is well aware of the anti-Mormon landscape online, and I'm sure that he can offer a special point of view on some of the challenges we're facing. He's not an academic, but he clearly very bright, and he may be just what we need to counter the threats posed by 'Skeletor' and 'Zelph Junior.' We need someone with time and wherewithal, and I can't think of anyone better than Beau.

Merlyn sent the message off, and ate a few more Goobers. Howell was right: what they needed was more foot soldiers on the ground; more eyeballs watching computer screens. The Brethren, in the last General Conference, had called for greater LDS missionary efforts online, and, so long as Merlyn had anything to sa about it, the scholars of the Turley J. Hinton Institute would not let the Church down.


To be continued in Part IV: The Shrink from Winnipeg

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Last edited by Bob Bobberson on Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:03 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:44 am 
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Fantastic as usual.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:21 am 
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Excellent.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:25 am 
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That's what I get for slacking off in keeping up with MD. I missed Bobberson! But at least I got to binge read the episodes to this point.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:43 am 
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Excellent!

More, please!


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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:28 am 
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annie wrote:
Excellent!

More, please!


No use pleading. A day for Robert B. Obberson could be either a week or an eon for Mankind.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:00 pm 
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Hopefully all his posts are stickied.


Last edited by Doctor CamNC4Me on Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:39 pm 
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Part IV: The Shrink from Winnipeg

Beau Taylor knew an opportunity when he saw one, and as soon as he received the email from Merlyn Young, he sprang into action. For over 15 years, he had been loyally following the academics at the Hinton Institute: he was a "Brother of Jared's Stones"-level contributor and had amassed nearly the entire collection of issues of The Journal of HIDM. He regularly went to the STAAM Conference each summer, and more recently, he had been asked to speak on plenary panels. And though he didn't post as frequently as Merlyn, Howell, the late Hiram Sanderson, or Herb McConkie, Beau was nonetheless a presence on the message boards. He spent his days seeing clients in his "faith-friendly" counseling practice, including a sizable percentage of the Winnipeg area's LDS population, and in the evenings he would unwind by reading the message boards, and watching the Hinton Institute apologists dismantle the anti-Mormon arguments. That's what he often told himself, anyhow. The truth was that there was nothing in heaven or earth that he hated more than the antis. They seemed to be growing exponentially, too, and increasingly they relied on lower and baser tactics. It was unfair in a way: the anti-Mormons cheated, lied, flung insults and hurled profanity, and yet if any of the LDS posters slipped up and gave the tiniest sign of having lost his temper, the critics were all over him, accusing him of being "un-Christlike," of not living up to his temple covenants, and so on. And Beau Taylor believed, above all, that it was the anonymity of the Internet that was to blame for this. If they were out in the open, exposed to the light of day, they would never behave like this, he had said more than once: both on the boards and to various friends who stayed abreast of such things.

So when he read Merlyn's message:

We're wondering what, if anything, you might be able to learn about the poster who calls himself "Skeletor."

Beau smiled softly. He knew exactly what to do, and he spent the next three hours sending emails out to a few allies, and then to carefully, methodically going back and reading every last one of Skeletor's posts. Somewhere in there, he was certain, "Skeletor" had slipped up, and this would provide him with the means to peer under the rock and see what the insects were doing.




"Well, I'm headed out," said Krista to her husband, Kyle.

"Okay, sweetie," he said, and he smiled at her. "You'll be back tomorrow morning?"

"Or in the afternoon. I might just go straight to work. I've got a change of clothes and things over at Taizel's."

"Okay. Have fun."

"Thanks," she said, and she was out the door. She got in her car and drove over to Poplar Grove, where Taizel had an apartment. The drive was peaceful and uneventful, and Krista listened to the country music station. As she neared the apartment complex, though, her heart fluttered slightly, as it always did. For a long time, Krista felt conflicted and guilty about this feeling, but after a while, she eventually came to understand it as a form of excitement, and as a means of protest. She and Taizel had gone the rounds on this issue more than once: why keep it a secret? Why not tell everyone? So what if we get excommunicated? But, of course, there were complications. There were always complications. At least Kyle was understanding about all of it. How could he not be? His treatment at Sprucewood had been ineffectual, and so his marriage to Krista was a kind of compromise, for both of them.

Krist shut off the car and climbed the stairs up to Taizel's apartment, and knocked.

"Just a second!" Taizel called from within, and after a few seconds, the door opened up. "Hey, girl!" They hugged there in the doorway, and then Taizel dragged her inside.

"Come in, come in: I missed you." They pressed their lips together, and Krista felt Taizel's lip ring pressing softly into the corner of her mouth.

"I missed you, too," Krista said. They held each other for a moment longer, and then Taizel led her off into the living room.

"So, what about this one?" Taizel asked. It was a resplendent flower arrangement of calla lilies and and Birds of Paradise, set into an elongated vase. Taizel, with her cargo pants, purple hair, and piercings, did flower arrangements from home to supplement her income as a record store clerk. It was actually a hobby for her, but as she often said, "Hey, I'm lucky that I can make some extra cash doing my hobby." And it was something that Krista loved about her: the way it contrasted with almost every other aspect of her personality.

"It's really beautiful," Krista said. "Do you have a wedding or something?"

"No, I think it's a retirement party," she said. "I dunno, I didn't get all the details." She touched the petals on one of the calla lilies and adjusted its position in the vase. "Anyways," she said, and she nodded in the direction of the TV. "I was thinking we could do the next season? Order in, some pizza or something?"

"Sounds good to me," said Krista. She and Taizel had been slowly but surely making their way through all the Dr. Who episodes. She sat down on the sofa and slipped off her shoes.

"How has work been for you?"

"Oh, you know how it goes," she said, and they both laughed.




Two days later, at night, past midnight, in fact, Beau Taylor logged on to his account at MormonDiscourse.com to check his private messages. Things had been moving quickly, and he wanted to make sure that everything was in order for Merlyn and the others at the Hinton Institute. "Skeletor," it turned out, had been relatively easy to track down. Beau had gotten Tracy Ingerson to ferret out "Skeletor's" IP address, and from there it had been a simple matter of a few Google searches to figure everything out. The truth was that "Skeletor" was a 39-year-old human resources manager named Brett Steves. He had six kids and lived in Logan. Knowing this information, Beau and his helpers branched out and began culling through the man's Facebook postings, and looking for anything else they could learn about him. It was astonishing, really, to see how much of a two-faced life Steves lived: going to church and attending temple weddings on the one hand (there were even pictures of him baptizing one of his sons) and yet publicly slamming the Brethren, complaining about the alleged "secrecy" of Church finances, and saying openly that he thought Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.

Beau Taylor read over the man's old posts and shook his head and smiled to himself. It's all going to come crashing down for you, Brother Steves.



To be continued in Part V: The Cruise

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 Post subject: Re: Hills Like White Lamanites
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:58 pm 
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Thank you for the fix, Mr. Bobberson!

Although I'm left wondering at the identity of "Kyle" and how he fits into this drama.

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